So there I was, changing lanes in East Ocean View when I heard the deadly whistle of my front tire deflating at 25 mph.
Immediately behind me is a 25 pound trailer with an extra 50 pounds of dumb bells. There's a crack of plastic on asphalt, a bounce in my periphery vision.
I keep my hands on the grips and squeeze my brakes slowly. I glance down briefly to see that, yes, I'm riding rim. As I focus back on the road, I notice that my Cateye handlebar light is missing.
So that's the culprit, I think to myself.
I wobble to a stop next to the well-manicured median of flowering bushes that welcomes the intrepid to East Ocean View. The car that was a comfortable hundred yards behind me passes by with a roar. I look back and can see my Cateye light scattered across the left lane.
That's fifty bucks back there on the road that I can't afford before the race!
Shoot, my best rechargeables are in there, too. That's eighty bucks lying in the road.
I grab the yellow flag off the back of my B.O.B. trailer and run down the median. My initial concern is simply materialistic- I don't want to have to buy a new light. But I'm also worried about my fellow bikers- we don't need any more road debris.
Sixty seconds later, the East Coast team comes flying down the other side of the road, and the sight of me waving my yellow flag on the side of the road brings them to a stop,
"Are you alright?" Rob calls out,
"Can we help?
"Yeah, yeah you can! I lost my light! Fell off. On the road. Pick up pieces."
Sixty seconds more, and two (three?) police cruisers were pulling out onto Ocean View. An officer rolled down his window and asked from the other side of the median, lights flashing, "Are you alright?'
"Front tire. Flat. Light fell off. Trying to find pieces."
Firefighters and paramedics were leaving the restaurant in the strip mall behind him, hopping into their trucks, the diesel engines rumbling to life.
"But are you alright?" the cop asked me again?
"Uh. Yeah. Yeah. I'm OK. Bike's OK. Light's broken."
With that the cop smiled and rolled off. The paramedics went back to their breakfast. Somebody picked up a circuit board from the road and handed it to me. I rolled my bike over the median and into the parking lot. Said my thanks. got ready to do another roadside repair.
First step in tire repair- loosen the retaining nut on the tire stem. Problem was, there was no stem left.
I had hit one of the new reflectors along the line between the lanes, and at 25mph and 90psi, that was enough to knock my Cateye light off its mount underneath the handlebar. On its way to the pavement below the light took out the tire stem.
Now I've caught flak from some of my faster Tri-Power buddies because my tool pouch is bigger than my ass, but I was happy to be able to pull out one of the mini Gerber tool stocking stuffers from my Mom (Christmas '05).
That little nut wouldn't budge by finger, but those Gerber pliers did the trick. I was installing a new tube when another biker stopped to see if I needed help,
While I pumped up my tire, Betty Jean told me how she got her right pedal fixed by Mike at the new Ocean View shop for five bucks. She knew all about East Coast Bikes.
So by now, you're probably wondering why the heck I was carrying a light in the first place. I had started my last big training ride for the Shenandoah 100 at 6 AM, before the sun had really risen.
My plan had been to leave Norfolk at 6 AM and meet Jenn and Abby at the Quaker Meeting on Laskin Road by 10, giving me enough time to do a quick clean up in the handicap bathroom. I was gonna ride for 4 hard hours with a 70 pound trailer behind me for added resistance. It was still a good training ride, but not the one I had anticipated.
Liz and I joke about how we know the Monday night riders by their bikes and jerseys and helmets and sunglasses. But I'm terrible with names, and I gotta use memory tricks to remember them. I apologize for not knowing the names of all y'all who helped me out. But thanks, guys! And big thanks to the Norfolk Police and Fire Departments. I didn't need y'all, but you were there if I did!